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Get a free download from Austin Stone Worship! Download the song “Jesus Lifted High” here!

7 Tips For Overcoming a Rocky Past

Jul 05, 2014

A rocky past can be difficult to overcome. We may have a hard time forgiving ourselves and remained locked in an attitude of “I’ll never be over this”. While we may be ready to move on and trust God with our future, others may struggle with letting go. However, God leads His children to a pathway of freedom and healing from their past. It’s not God’s will that we remain paralyzed by the mistakes of our past. In fact, there are many lost people who’ve messed up, but the laborers are few to reach out to them. Trust in God’s direction and use the following 7 tips to overcome your past:

Tip #1) Return and remain steadfast in God’s promises.

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15).

Jacob was a deceiver who took advantage of his brother’s weakness and conspired with his mother to trick Isaac. Yet the Lord never pulled back on His promise to Abraham in spite of Jacob’s faults. Through his life journey, Jacob returned to the Lord and held on to God’s promises until his death.

In our life journey, we’re going to make mistakes and have regrets like Jacob. We can’t change the things we’ve said or done, but we can return to Him and remember His promises for restoration of relationships.

Tip #2) Trust in God’s restoring power and not in your own strength”

“The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (Exodus 4:11-12)

Moses was frustrated for his people and took matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian. The Lord had a greater purpose for Moses and called him out to become a mighty leader for Israel. Moses recognized his inadequacy to speak to the people, yet with God’s power he did extraordinary miracles and lead the people out of Egypt.

Many of us have made the same mistake of taking matters into our own hands leaving a pathway of destruction. When we submit to God’s restoring power instead of relying on our own abilities, we discover a fresh new calling that we never would’ve known otherwise.

Tip #3) Look for opportunities (or second chances) that God reveals

“One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, ‘My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for’” (Ruth 3:1).

Naomi returned to Bethlehem a broken and bitter woman with the loss of her husband and two sons. She was dependent on her daughter-in-law, Ruth, who worked hard to take care of their needs. Naomi recognized an opportunity for Ruth and she took action resulting in Ruth’s marriage to Boaz.

Just like Naomi, we can initially settle for becoming bitter about our past or we can pray for better opportunities in Christ. If we remain sober and alert, we can discover the open doors that God has prepared for us in spite of our past.

Tip #4) Confess and seek forgiveness for what you’ve done in the past.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions,and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51: 2-4).

David became an adulterer, murderer, and conspirator in his big cover up. When Nathan exposed his faults, David repented and sought God’s forgiveness. Although he suffered the consequences of his sin, God loved and forgave David allowing him to remain a great king.

We can’t try to cover up our sins and pretend they never happened. There must be an occasion of confession and repentance so that our relationship with God and others can be restored.

Tip #5) Refuse to remain silent about your deliverance and engagement with Christ Jesus.

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him” (John 4:28-30).

The Samaritan woman had a difficult past as made evident from her five husbands and seeking water when other people weren’t around. Jesus didn’t avoid the conversation she needed to hear. Through their discussion, she became a free woman and acted immediately to share her story with the community.

There are hurting people around us everyday with their own stories of regret and shame. When we share about our deliverance and engagement with Christ—we present them with the opportunity of becoming free as well.

Tip #6) Seek out and strengthen those who have rocky pasts.

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

Jesus told Peter beforehand that he would deny Him when tested. After Peter denied Jesus three times and made eye contact with Him—he went outside the city and wept bitterly. However he did follow up with the other disciples.

Sometimes it’s tempting for us to hide our past and pretend like we’ve always walked in righteousness. Yet we must remain tender-hearted to those who are hurting because of their sins and help them find their way to restoration in Christ Jesus.

Tip #7) Push forward in the vision God placed in your heart for His greater purposes.

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Before Paul came to the faith, he was a leading persecutor of the church. When he became a follower, it took awhile for the church to accept him. Paul could’ve carried the weight of his regret and never stepped out in faith to be the missionary God called him to be.

We have choices just like Paul—to revel in our past or push towards our future in Christ. The consequences may be with us for a long time, yet there is greater purpose in the Lord if we remain open to His will for our future in Him.

Rocky Past leading to a Hopeful Future in Christ

God calls each of us to put the past behind us and press towards His calling on our lives. We are a redeemed people and full of hope especially towards the lost around us. Take the first step necessary to living the life of faith provided for you through Jesus Christ.

Article by Crystal McDowell

Crystal McDowell is a writer, speaker, and teacher with a passion to encourage believers to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through practical application of God’s word.  

Crystal and her husband, Marshall, raise their five children in the Bloomington, IL. As a freelance writer and editor for over 13 years, Crystal has published numerous Christian curriculums for Sunday School and VBS as well as many articles dealing with marriage, motherhood, and relationships. She’s a weekly staff writer for www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com as well as writing her own blog at http://crystalmcdowellspeaks.blogspot.com.

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